Jun 9, 2020Paper

Structural modeling of 2019-novel coronavirus (nCoV) spike protein reveals a proteolytically-sensitive activation loop as a distinguishing feature compared to SARS-CoV and related SARS-like coronaviruses

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Javier A JaimesGary R Whittaker


The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is currently causing a widespread outbreak centered on Hubei province, China and is a major public health concern. Taxonomically 2019-nCoV is closely related to SARS-CoV and SARS-related bat coronaviruses, and it appears to share a common receptor with SARS-CoV (ACE-2). Here, we perform structural modeling of the 2019-nCoV spike glycoprotein. Our data provide support for the similar receptor utilization between 2019-nCoV and SARS-CoV, despite a relatively low amino acid similarity in the receptor binding module. Compared to SARS-CoV, we identify an extended structural loop containing basic amino acids at the interface of the receptor binding (S1) and fusion (S2) domains, which we predict to be proteolytically-sensitive. We suggest this loop confers fusion activation and entry properties more in line with MERS-CoV and other coronaviruses, and that the presence of this structural loop in 2019-nCoV may affect virus stability and transmission.


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